Listen to “How does exercise affect your mental health?”.
Did you know that regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more? It even relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.
You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits of exercise. Research indicates that even small amounts can make a big difference. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise to feel better.
Have you ever noticed how your body feels when you’re under stress? Your muscles get tense, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, leaving you with back pain, neck pain and headaches. You may even feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding pulse, or muscle cramps and suffer from insomnia, heartburn or stomachaches. The worry and discomfort of all these physical symptoms can then lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.
Exercising is an effective way to break this cycle. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activity helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better, so will your mind.
Exercise makes you feel good because it releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also help you to get out and socialise, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Regular exercise can reduce your stress and symptoms of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, and help with recovery from mental health issues.
Exercise also helps to improve your sleep, which is vital for your health.
Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication, without any nasty side-effects. A recent study carried out by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.
In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise schedule can prevent you from relapsing.
Humans were designed to move. Adults should aim to be active daily and complete at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity activity each week; the equivalent of 30 minutes five times a week.
If you don’t have a spare 30 minutes, then you can combine shorter 10-15 minute sessions, until you reach your goal.
Practising mindfulness, while doing exercise, also reduces your stress and improves your mental health.
From improving endurance to losing weight and increasing muscle tone, there’s no shortage of physical achievements that come from doing regular exercise. All those achievements will give a massive boost to your self-esteem and confidence.
You may not set out for better-fitting clothes, a slimmer physique or the ability to climb a hill without getting out of breath, but the surprise benefits will give you a lot more motivation.
As you exercise more, over time, you will feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have a sharper memory, and feel more relaxed and positive about yourself and your life.